A Message from Our Chief Medical Officer
Dear New York Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As of May 13, 2021, more than 32.8 million cases of COVID-19 and over 584,000 cumulative total deaths have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the start of the pandemic. Over the past seven days, the state reporting the highest number of cases per 100,000 is Colorado (133), with California reporting the lowest number (9).

The COVID vaccine rollout continues, and more than 279 million doses have been administered: 48.2 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose, and 38.1 percent is now fully vaccinated. In New York State, 51.3 percent has received at least one dose and 43.3 percent is fully vaccinated. The testing positivity rate in New York State on May 19 remained extremely low, at 0.85 percent. Our medical school students, faculty, and staff in New York and Arkansas continue to contribute to this historic national vaccination effort.

This week, effective May 19, New York State adopted the CDC's "Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People" for most businesses and public settings. However, PreK-to-12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will be exempt from these recommendations until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated. This is a very important step, as the CDC can only make recommendations, and each state must decide on whether it will adopt the recommendations. The ability to adopt and enforce recommendations is within the powers of state governments (and not the CDC). This is exemplified by New Jersey, which did not fully adopt the CDC recommendations and continues to maintain its indoor public mask requirement rules for vaccinated people. As a reminder, full CDC guidance can be found here.

Of note: There have been no specific recommendations regarding colleges and universities. Therefore, New York Tech will continue following the reopening plan we submitted to New York State—which requires an online health screen and the use of masks on campus, among other protocols—until more clarification is provided by the New York State Department of Health or the governor’s office.

The CDC continues to monitor variants of SARS Cov-2, and B.1.1.7 (the U.K. variant) continues to be the predominant variant nationwide, representing as much as 82.2 percent of coronavirus variants in Tennessee (the state with the highest percentage of this variant) and 48.3 percent in New York.

From a global perspective, India remains the area of highest concern. Although the number of new cases has started to decrease, on May 20, there were 259,551 new COVID-19 cases and more than 291,000 total deaths reported.

It is clear that all the national efforts—including community mitigation, testing, early diagnosis and contact tracing, quarantine/isolation, vaccinations, and timely clinical care—have resulted in dramatic improvement over time and a significant change in national guidelines. We have all contributed directly, or indirectly to these efforts, and should continue to behave in ways that will continue to reduce the spread of this virus.

As always, the New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test or vaccination at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. Those who may continue to feel anxious or uneasy may reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.

Brian L. Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine

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